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Visit of George IV. to Ireland page 4

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" Thus ended," said a Dublin journal, " the corporation dinner, which, combining the splendour and magnitude of the preparations, the pomp and magnificence of the entertainment, and the dignity of the guests, with the refulgent charms of the fair spectators, never was equalled, and never will be surpassed in Ireland."

On Friday, the 24th, the king visited the Royal Dublin Society, at Leinster House, the lawn of which was covered with beautiful tents, ranged in semi-circular form round a magnificent marquee, where his majesty was entertained. Three harpers, robed in the antique garb of Irish minstrels, were stationed at the entrance of the tent. He was received by the members, about one hundred and fifty in number, all decorated with the insignia of welcome. The price of admission to this fête champêtre was five guineas for a member and two ladies.

The king having looked through the institution, hurried off to Slane Castle, the seat of the marquis Conyngham. He was escorted by a troop of cavalry as far as Finglas, where he dismissed half of them. He changed horses at Ashbourne, travelling at the rate of twelve English miles an hour, and, leaving all his suite far behind, he arrived at Slane at half-past four o'clock. The lord-lieutenant and a number of the nobility were asked there to meet him. On the following day he viewed the obelisk of Old Bridge, where the famous battle of the Boyne was fought, which secured the throne to his family. He was surrounded by thousands of the peasantry, his only guard being lady Conyngham and her daughter. On Sunday he went to Slane church, when he enjoyed another ovation.

Among the company invited to meet the king at Slane Castle was the lord chief justice Bushe, then solicitor- general. He and the attorney-general, Saurin, went down together, and had barely time to dress for dinner. He had never been seen by the king but once, at the levée. On going down stairs he met his majesty coming up. The rencontre was most embarrassing, but it was only for a moment. The king at once said, " Bushe, I believe you don't know the ways of this house," and taking him under the arm, conducted him to the drawing-room. " In one moment," said Bushe, " I was as much at ease as if I had been his daily companion. I sat opposite to him at dinner. The first words he addressed to me were these (lady Conyngham, who sat next him, had been whispering something in his ear): - 1 Bushe, you would never guess what lady Conyngham has been saying to me; she has been repeating a passage from one of your speeches against the union.' He saw that I started, and was rather at a loss what to say, and instantly changed the subject by recommending meto try a particular French dish, from which ha had been just helped. 'This,' said he, 11 can recommend as the perfection of cookery. My cousin, the duke of Gloucester, often produces it for his guests, but always fails in it. It is the same with all his dishes; he has a remarkable talent for giving bad dinners.' The king soon after returned to the union. 'My early opinion was,' said he, addressing Saurin, 'that you and the solicitor-general's opposition to the measure was well founded, and since I have seen this glorious people, and the effects produced by it, that opinion is confirmed; but,' he added, as if correcting himself, "am sure you will agree with me in considering that now the measure is carried you would both feel it your duty to resist any attempt to repeal it with as much zeal as you originally opposed it. But you all committed a great mistake. Instead of direct opposition, you should have made terms, as the Scotch did, and you could have got good terms.' He then summed up some of the principal stipulations of the Scotch union. He had history at his fingers' ends. Saurin said (a very odd remark, as it struck me, to come from Äim), 1 And the Scotch further stipulated for the establishment of their national religion.' 'You are quite right,' said the king; 4they secured that point also, but ---. No, no,' he added, hastily checking himself; 'you must pay no attention to what I have just said. It would not be right to have it supposed that I entertain an opinion from which inferences might be drawn that would afterwards lead to disappointment.' In the evening, dispatches arrived from England containing an account of the tumultuous proceedings at the queen's funeral. The king expressed, without the slightest reserve, his dissatisfaction at the want of energy shown by the government on the occasion, and contrasted it with the firmness of his father during the riots of 1780. He detailed the particulars of the late king's conduct upon that occasion, who, he said, expressly sent for him to be a witness of it, for the regulation of his own conduct upon any similar emergency. He concluded by suddenly saying, in an altered and broken voice, 'I shall never again see such a man as my father.' The king spoke of the run of luck that he had lately had; his getting round the Land's End just a few minutes before the wind changed, and his consequent arrival at Holyhead two days before the other vessels; his landing in Ireland on his birthday, which had been the wish of his heart; and finally, his glorious reception by the Irish people. Among the lucky incidents, he suppressed the news of the queen's death. The king's accent had the slightest intermixture of the foreign. He has been known to say, 'I wish these catholics were damned or emancipated.'"

On Monday, the 27th, the king returned to Dublin, and dined with the university. On his arrival, Dr. Barrett, the vice-provost, addressed him in a Latin speech. As usual, very costly preparations were made for his reception, this loyal and wealthy corporation being determined not to be outdone by any other body in Dublin. Among the other ornaments of the dining-hall was the organ, taken from the Spanish Armada, and presented to Trinity College by queen Elizabeth. It was put in repair for this occasion, and attracted no small attention, as the organ loft was occupied by seventy ladies of the highest distinction. An ode to the king, specially composed for the occasion, was sung at dinner. It was severely criticised by the London journals, one of which said that the Dublin University was called the "silent sister," but when she opened her mouth it was like Balaam's ass. It is said that the king was more at home among his academic subjects, and altogether more gratified and happy, than at any other public entertainment in Ireland.

On Tuesday, the 29th, the installation of the knights companions of the most illustrious order of St. Patrick took place in the cathedral.

The most memorable proceedings in the order under this, its second sovereign, were the creation of extra knights, and the circumstance of his majesty having held an investiture and installation in person in the capital of his Irish dominions. In January, 1820, the order lost its most illustrious companion by the death of his royal highness the duke of Kent, earl of Dublin; and two other stalls became void in that year by the decease of the earl of Roden, in June, and of the marquis of Ormond, in August. The chancellor, Dr. Cleaver, archbishop of Dublin, dying in December, 1819, Dr. lord John Beresford, his successor in the archiépiscopal see, was invested as chancellor on the 26th of May, 1820.

Another prince of the blood royal was soon after given to the order in place of the duke of Kent, by the election of the sovereign's brother, Ernest Augustus, duke of Cumberland, Teviotdale, earl of Armagh, knight of the garter, and knight of the grand cross of the orders of the Bath and Guelph, afterwards king of Hanover. The two other vacant ribands were conferred upon George Augustus Chichester, second marquis of Donegal, and Du Pre Alexander, second earl of Caledon.

At the coronation, in July, 1821, his majesty was pleased to dispense with the statutes, and to declare the six following noblemen extra knights of the order, namely: - Talbot, then lord-lieutenant of Ireland, and grand master of the order; Ormond, Meath, Fingal, Courtown, and Roden. Before the appointment of earl Talbot, no instance had occurred of the grand master, or of a peer of England, who was not also a peer of Ireland, having been elected a knight of the order. The duke of Cumberland was invested by his proxy, Lord Graves, who was knighted on that occasion; and all the other knights elect, except the earl of Caledon, were knighted and invested. On the 28th of the same month, the sovereign presided in person at an installation in St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the nine knights elect were installed with the usual ceremonies in the following order: - the duke of Cumberland, who was represented by his proxy, lord Graves, the marquis of Donegal, earl of Caledon, earl Talbot, earl of Ormond, earl of Meath, earl of Fingal, earl of Courtown, and earl of Roden. His majesty appointed the earl of Clanricarde (who was afterwards elected a knight of the order), the earl of Bective (eldest son of the marquis of Headford, K.P.), and the earl of Mount Charles (eldest son of the marquis Conyngham, K.P.), his esquires; and his train was borne by the sons of six other peers of Ireland.

The ceremony, to use the words of a contemporary journal, was " of matchless splendour, and had a magical effect, removing for a moment the curtains of time, and transporting the imagination to the golden days of chivalry and romance."

During the installation his majesty occupied the archiepiscopal throne; the installed knights sat in their respective stalls, their esquires seated before them. The knights elect sat in front of their several stalls, having also their esquires before them, and the prelate, chancellor, and other officers took the seats prepared for them. It was intended that the procession should, as in 1809 and 1819, proceed from the castle to the cathedral on foot, but in consequence of the state of the weather the knights, esquires, and other officers went in carriages. At the banquet in St. Patrick's Hall, the knights companions sat at the sovereign's table, which crossed the hall, according to the order of their stalls, together with the prelate, chancellor, and registrar. There were also two tables running down the hall, which were occupied by the nobility and other persons of distinction, who had been specially invited, the lord mayor presiding at the one, and the general commanding the forces at the other. The sovereign's esquires attended behind his majesty; the king of arms stood immediately on the right hand of the sovereign; the secretary stood behind the prelate; the genealogist behind the chancellor, and the usher behind the registrar's chair; and the esquires stood behind their respective knights, where they remained during the first course. When it had ended, all the knights companions and officers rose, and Ulster, attended by the officers of arms, having retired to the bottom of the hall, advanced up the centre between the two tables, making their reverences to the sovereign, and, after a flourish of trumpets, he proclaimed that " the knights companions of the most illustrious order of St. Patrick drank to the sovereign's health." " God save the king " having been sung, Ulster shortly after proclaimed that " the sovereign did the knights of St. Patrick the honour to drink their health," the band playing "St. Patrick's day." After this, Ulster announced that "the knights companions drank the health of his royal highness the duke of York, and of the royal family." Ulster, with the officers of arms, then retired down the hall, each taking their respective stations; and shortly after the sovereign dispensed with the further attendance of the esquires, officers of the order, and the officers of arms, when they proceeded to the apartments where dinner was provided for them. After the dessert, the sovereign rose, touched his hat, and gave for a toast " The loyal corporation of the city of Dublin." His majesty retired at half-past seven o'clock, attended by the lord- lieutenant and his suite; but on the return of his excellency the festivities continued, and "his majesty's happy return to Dublin, and peace and prosperity to Ireland," and other toasts, were drank with enthusiasm. The general effect of the spectacle is said to have been most splendid; and the installation of the knights of St. Patrick on that occasion will always form a memorable event in the history of Ireland. While his majesty remained in Dublin, he constantly wore the star, riband, and badge of the order of St. Patrick, and usually appeared with a shamrock in his hat.

On the 30th the installation ball took place at the Rotunda, the round room of which accommodates about two thousand persons. This was the great day for the ladies, and so we read that the gallant knights of St. Patrick entertained the most illustrious and beautiful women in the laud in a style worthy of the Irish nobility, and in such a manner as induced the king to declare that in all he beheld there was so much of splendour, taste, " and," turning to the ladies, " of beauty too, he never witnessed a more charming scene." At the basement of each column, between the windows, mirrors were suspended, which, reflecting in every direction the rich and costly ornaments and the vast assemblage of rank, fashion, and beauty, gave the scene the appearance of some magic structure in oriental romance. The king arrived at ten o'clock, and dancing immediately commenced. It seems the ladies were so overawed by his presence that they became nervous and confused, and forgot their evolutions. At all events, his majesty ungallantly remarked that in whatever else the Irish excelled, they had no pretensions to dancing. He withdrew at eleven o'clock. At one, nine hundred persons sat down to supper, furnished with all that was most excellent in gastronomic art.

On Friday, the 31st, the sovereign paid his promised visit to the Curragh of Kildare, driving rapidly under triumphal arches, amidst the cheers of the peasantry, and followed by the duke of Leinster, and many other noblemen and gentlemen, with their tenantry, mounted and carrying banners. The people at the Curragh that day are said to have numbered one hundred and twenty thousand, who all assembled round the stand house, and welcomed the king with a thundering shout. After the races there was a grand banquet at two o'clock. Before his departure the king presented the duke of Leinster with a costly whip, stating that he intended that it should be awarded to the owner of the best horse in Ireland, to be run for every year with a stake of a hundred guineas, heavy weight to be carried, in order to encourage the breed of strong horses. The turf club distributed fifty barrels of ale among the peasantry on that day, and they had liberated a week before all that were confined for debt in the county, for sums under fifty pounds, thus making a jubilee of the king's visit.

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